Sunday, January 13, 2013

French Planes Bomb Rebel Positions in Mali

PARIS — France attacked Islamists targets in Mali for the third straight day on Sunday, bombing an key northern town held by the extremists.

French fighter jets bombed the northern Malian town of Gao, even as West African troops were due to arrive to help Bamako beat back an Islamist insurgency.

In a television interview, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the air raids would continue Monday.

Le Drian said roughly 400 French soldiers have been deployed to Bamako, to ensure security and protect French and European nationals.  More French troops were dispatched to the town of Mopti, about 500 kilometers north of the capital.

Launched Friday, the attacks aim to eradicate an Islamist insurgency that was making inroads to the south last week, after capturing vast chunks of territory in northern Mali.  France says the Islamists not only threaten Mali and surrounding countries, but also Europe.

Paris has also notched up its terrorism alert, underscoring concerns extremists may launch retaliatory attacks in the city and against more than half a dozen French hostages held by Islamists in West Africa.

News reports describe Bamako as calm, with some cars sporting French flags.  The offensive has earned praise in Europe and West Africa.

Residents in Gao say the Islamists who occupied their town and imposed Islamic Sharia law have fled.  Interviewed on French radio, the town's mayor, Diallo Sadou, hailed the French attacks.

Sadou thanked France for its courage to have launched the offensive, and said he hoped God was protecting the French hostages.

One French soldier has died since the French airstrikes began Friday.  The Malian government says at least 11 of its soldiers have been killed and another 60 injured.   

from VOA News
by Lisa Bryant
January 13, 2013

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3 soldiers killed in attack in central Iraq

TIKRIT, Iraq, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- At least three soldiers were killed by gunmen near the city of Samarra in Salahudin province which lies to the north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Sunday, a provincial police source told Xinhua.

The attack occurred in the morning when gunmen opened fire and threw hand grenades at an Iraqi army checkpoint on a highway near Samarra, some 110 km north of Baghdad, a source from the provincial police command said on condition of anonymity.

Salahudin is a Sunni-dominated province. Its capital city of Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, is the hometown of the former President Saddam Hussein.

Violence in Iraq has decreased from its climax in 2006 and 2007, when sectarian conflicts pushed the country to the brink of a civil war, but tensions and sporadic shootings and bombings are still common across the country.


2013-01-13 21:02:19

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Blast in Afghanistan kills seven civilians

Districts of Wardak.
Districts of Wardak. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
KABUL: An explosion killed seven Afghan villagers Sunday as they tried to pull bodies of insurgents killed from the rubble of a village mosque after a night raid by Nato and Afghan troops in the country’s east, officials said.

The predawn operation in Sayedabad district was aimed capturing a Taliban fighter who had holed up in a village, said Wardak province spokesman Shahidullah Shahid .

The international and Afghan forces captured their target but came under attack from insurgents, sparking a two-hour gunfight during which at least one large blast sounded, he said. Four insurgents were dead by the time fighting ended around 4:30 a.m.

Then at about 6 a.m. local time, residents came out to find the local mosque partly destroyed and started digging through the rubble to uncover bodies.

Shahid said something exploded as they dug, killing seven civilians.

He said the insurgents were wearing suicide vests, but it was not immediately clear if that caused the explosion.

A spokesman for international forces in Afghanistan confirmed that four insurgents were killed but did not have any immediate reports of civilian deaths.

”I am aware of reports that indicate there may have been civilians killed and Isaf and Afghan officials are assessing the situation to determine the facts,” said Jamie Graybeal, a spokesman for the international military coalition in Afghanistan.

He said that there was no airstrike as part of the operation, but that the Nato and Afghan troops did discover a large cache of weapons, which they destroyed there on the site, causing a large explosion.

from DAWN


KHAAMA Press got a different, interest story:

NATO airstrike kill Afghan civilians in Wardak province 

By Sadaf Shinwari - January 13 2013, 12:11 pm
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Jan. 13., 2013. - ISAF Joint Command Operational Update

KABUL, Afghanistan – An Afghan and coalition security force arrested a Taliban leader in Nad ‘Ali district, Helmand province, Jan. 13.

The leader transported and emplaced improvised explosive devices and armed insurgent fighters in the district.

The security force also detained two suspected insurgents as a result of the operation.

In other International Security Assistance Force news throughout Afghanistan:


An Afghan and coalition force detained two suspected insurgents during a security operation in search of a Taliban leader in Baghlan-e Jadid district, Baghlan province, Jan. 13. The leader controls a group of fighters responsible for attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.


An Afghan and coalition force detained two suspected insurgents during a security operation in search of a Taliban leader in Khugyani district, Nangarhar province, Jan. 13. The leader provides weapons to Taliban fighters operating in Khugyani district. During the operation, the security force seized improvised explosive device-making materials and multiple weapons and ammunition.

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Jan. 13., 2013. - RC-East operational update

BAGRAM, Afghanistan - Afghan and coalition forces cleared three improvised explosive devices during operations in eastern Afghanistan throughout the past 24 hours, Jan. 12.

Kapisa Province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces found and safely cleared one IED in Tagab district.

Khowst Province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces found and safely cleared one IED in Nadir Shah Kot district.

Nangarhar Province
Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces found and safely cleared one IED in Surkh Rod district.

Operations in RC-East are ongoing.

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Bomb kills 14 Pakistani soldiers in North Waziristan

(Reuters) - A roadside bomb killed as many as 14 Pakistani soldiers in the northern border region of North Waziristan on Sunday, military officials said, a day after the Pakistani Taliban leader called for attacks on the military in the area to stop.

The explosion occurred on a road about 50 km (30 miles) south of the provincial capital of Miranshah. Twenty-one soldiers were wounded in the attack, senior army officials said.

On Saturday, Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, had circulated a leaflet calling for an end to the Taliban's infrequent attacks on Pakistani soldiers in North Waziristan.

Thousands of Pakistani soldiers are stationed in North Waziristan.

The ceasefire did not apply to the rest of the country, where there are often fierce clashes between the Taliban and security services.

The mountainous tribal region of North Waziristan along the Afghan border is a key stronghold of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. South Waziristan is under the control of the Wazir tribe, who have a peace deal with the Pakistani military.

It was unclear if the leaflet was related to rumours of splits in the movement. It called on local and foreign fighters to unite because "the enemy is trying to divide and rule us".

The Taliban have formed alliances with a number of other militant groups in North Waziristan who are violently opposed to the Pakistani state.

Some Taliban commanders are divided over whether the Pakistani state or NATO forces are their top target.

Those divisions were laid bare in November by an attempted suicide attack on Mullah Nazir, a top militant commander from the Wazir tribe in South Waziristan. He had signed a peace deal with the Pakistani army but supported attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The attack was widely believed to be the work of rival Taliban commanders, and the Wazir tribe ordered Hakimullah Mehsud's tribe out of their lands.

Mullah Nazir was killed in a drone strike this month and it is unclear if his successor will continue his policies, or what relationship the Wazir tribe will have with the Mehsud tribe.

Pakistani army officials have also told Reuters that there are tensions between Mehsud and his deputy. The two men recently appeared together in a video to deny the allegations.

The decision to halt attacks against the Pakistani army in North Waziristan could signal the Pakistani Taliban's intention to help the Afghan Taliban fight U.S.-led NATO forces in the neighbouring country, or focus more closely on attacking Western targets inside Pakistan.

Or it could be more specifically aimed at unifying local factions. Mehsud's statement specifically addressed both foreign fighters and local Taliban.

By Haji Mujtaba
MIRANSHAH, Pakistan | Sun Jan 13, 2013 12:13pm GMT
(Additional reporting by Saud Mehsud in Dear Ismail Khan and Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar; Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)
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Mali: French Fighter Jets Pound Mali, Top Islamist Leader Reported Killed

French Mirage fighter jets on Sunday pounded Mali for a third day and a top Islamist leader was reported killed as African troops headed to the west African country.

"There were [air strikes] last night, there are now and there will be today and tomorrow," Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in televised remarks.

"Our intervention is ongoing and we will continue in order to make them [Islamist fighters] retreat and allow Malian and African forces to go forward and re-establish the territorial integrity of the country," Le Drian said.

The first troops promised by African nations were expected in Mali on Sunday to join the campaign.
Burkina Faso, Niger and Senegal on Saturday each pledged 500 troops for an African-led intervention force.

Also on Sunday, a security source said a lieutenant of Ansar Dine, Chief Iyad Ag Ghaly, was killed in fighting to recapture the central town of Konna from the rebels.

"The Islamist fighters suffered a real setback with the death of Abdel 'Kojak' Krim," the source said.
On Saturday French troops arrived in the capital Bamako, flying in from bases in Côte d'Ivoire and Chad, according to a Malian officer. He refused to give details of their numbers or their mission.
Colonel Paul Geze, the French mission's commander, told Mali's ORTM television he hoped their mission would succeed "as quickly as possible, in the best conditions possible".

ORTM said the French contingent would be at full strength by Monday. It has been deployed in the capital to protect the 6,000-strong expatriate community.

Both France and Mali on Saturday hailed the success of their joint operation to push back an advance by the Islamists who control the north of the country.

Since taking power in the north last year, the Islamists have destroyed centuries-old Muslim mausoleums they see as heretical and imposed an extreme form of Islamic law including floggings, amputations and sometimes executions.

"Our foes have suffered heavy losses," French President Francois Hollande said.
A French pilot carrying out air raids had been killed, he added.

Human Rights Watch, citing reports from residents, said at least 10 civilians including three children had died in Konna. Children forced by the Islamists to fight in their ranks had been wounded and possibly killed in the fighting, said HRW's Corinne Dufka.

The Islamists had conscripted the child soldiers in Mali's northeast region of Gao and captured others from neighbouring Niger, she added, calling for their immediate release.
As Western nations praised the French initiative, Britain offered technical support, though no troops on the ground.

Meanwhile French President Hollande said he had ordered tighter security at home following the intervention in Mali, a former French colony.

France "has to take all necessary precautions" in the face of a terrorist threat including increased surveillance of public buildings and transport, he said.
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What Led the French Commando Raid On Al Shabab to Be a Botched One?

map by Evan Centanni (
Bulomarer — Reliable sources in and around BuloMarer town in South Somalia where French commandos raided late last night, say that the French commandos first landed at a village called Daaydoog which is located at the seaside and three kilometers away from BulMarur where the French intelligence officer was held by Al Shabab militants.

According to the reliable sources, who are local people and spoke to Shabelle, say that the French commandos killed some villagers and tied others when they landed at Daaydoog before they headed to BulMarer. But some villagers who survived the French killings at the seaside contacted and alerted Al Shabab fighters in BuloMarer telling them that there were at least fifty heavily armed foreign soldiers on their way to BuloMarer.

The reliable sources, who spoke to Shabelle, say that the survived villagers called particularly the commander of Al Shabab in Bulo Shiekh Ahmed who was among those the French killed in the fire fight.

But before he and his men moved to ambush the coming French commandos, Ahmed is reported to have moved the French captive from the house they were holding into another house.

The sources say that the killing of the villagers was a mistake which led Al Shabab to be alerted and prepare for the French commandos.

by SHABELLE Media Network (Mogadishu)
12 January 2013


some questions in my mind:
- why they landed at Daaydoog, and why killed "villagers"
- it is an intelligence mistake?
- what about the live surveillance drones? it must show the al-shabaab troops movements...

here is the official press release from Harakat Al-Shabaab Al-Mujahideen:
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Over 100 dead in French strikes and fighting in Mali

(Reuters) - More than 100 people including rebels and government soldiers were killed in Mali during French air strikes and fighting over the strategic town of Konna, Malian military sources and witnesses said on Saturday.

An army officer at the headquarters of Mali's former military junta in Bamako said nearly 30 vehicles carrying Islamist fighters had been bombed and "over 100" rebels had been killed in fighting.

"We have driven them out, we are effectively in Konna," Malian Defence Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Diaran Kone told Reuters. "We don't know if they have planted mines or other traps, so we are moving with caution. There were many deaths on both sides."

A shopkeeper in Konna said he had counted 148 bodies in four different locations in the town. Among the dead were several dozen uniformed government soldiers. Others wore traditional robes and turbans.

Fighters from the Islamist coalition that currently controls northern Mali do not wear military clothing.

A resident in the town of Gao, the stronghold of the MUJWA Islamist group, said fighters had begun arriving with their dead on Friday.

"Electric power is available at the mortuary, which is not always the case. And the Islamists have bought plenty of burial mats," the man said.

BAMAKO | Sat Jan 12, 2013 8:23pm GMT
(Reporting by Adama Diarra and Tiemoko Diallo; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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